Caffè Greco is a famous and historic café near Rome’s Spanish Steps:
At the top of via Condotti, just off the Piazza di Spagna, is Caffè Greco, one of the oldest cafés in Rome. Opened by its Greek owner in 1760, Caffè Greco’s literary connections are very much stronger than the coffee it serves. The café has had its share of eminent clientele, however being in Rome’s famous shopping street, it tends of be touristy.
We’ve walked past Caffè Greco on many occasions, but this time we decided to treat ourselves to a little indulgence. Caffè Greco was a writers’ haunt. The great attraction of this café is that many of history’s literary greats have enjoyed coffee here. Among the long list of intellectuals, writers, poets and composers are Byron, Keats, Stendhal, Goethe, Franz Liszt, Hans Christian Andersen, Felix Mendelssohn, Morrissey, Wagner and others. Even Casanova is believed to have had coffee here. This 1856 painting gives an idea of what the place looked like in the 19th century.
Caffè Greco is organized into a series of small rooms with small marble tables and red velvet wall coverings and sofas. The café is classy and its interior decorations give it a plush feel. The walls are decorated with portraits of some of its famous clientele.
I would have liked to walk around to check out the portraits of Caffè Greco’s famous clients, but the café was busy and it wouldn’t be appropriate to disturb the other customers by hanging around their table.
Expensive, but worth the experience
In a coffee-drinking country like Italy, you never have to worry about the cost of coffee as they are usually very reasonably priced. That said, the price of coffee and tea at Caffè Greco must have caused many guests to gulp when they first see the menu. A cup of espresso is 8€, café latte costs 10€ and tea is 15€. Cakes are 10€ a slice.
However, to put things into perspective, the prices here are no more expensive than the Café Florian in Venice or other historic cafés. What you’re paying for is its history, the atmosphere and luxury, not just for the coffee itself.
I thought that we would be shown to a table, but they let us choose wherever we wanted to sit. A smartly attired waiter in tailcoat came to take our order and although it was tea time, I chose to have coffee instead. For whatever reason, the tea was much more expensive. At 15€, you could have an alcoholic drink for that same price. We had some little pastries with our coffee and sat and enjoyed the place.
Today Caffè Greco still remains a haven for writers, politicians, artists and notable people in Rome. We however didn’t see anyone that we recognized. This afternoon’s clientele looked more like weary tourists in need of coffee and a place to rest their weary feet.
Via dei Condotti, 86
Spagna, Roma 00187